Mardi Gras Icons, 610 Stompers Prepare for ‘World Domination through Dance’

  @MarkJohansonIBT on February 17 2012 3:48 PM

In 2009, the 610 Stompers danced onto the scene as New Orleans' preeminent Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) dance troupe for ordinary men with extraordinary moves - a group for the kind of guys who eat too many King Cakes, drink a few too many beers, and don't have your typical dancer bodies.

Chief Dancing Officer Brett SLAB Patron grew up in New Orleans watching female dance troupes march along the parade route and thought, why can't guys do this too?

We needed a group of ordinary fellows, he told IBTimes.

The group held its first auditions in 2009 and about 30 people showed up. They had another round of auditions a few months later and when all was said and done, they ended up with about 45 guys in the first year.

By 2012, that number had doubled to about 85 with auditions held twice yearly. The last audition saw about 120 stomping hopefuls present their moves. Only 20 made the cut.

So what is these ordinary men's most extraordinary move?

One time in the course of a three-hour Mardi Gras parade we're all in sync, Patron joked. It usually happens about once in a three hour period.

The 610 Stompers don't wear costumes, they wear uniforms.

The uniform consists of coaching shorts and a tank top because it screams ordinary man. Sweat bands were added because between being ordinary men and athletes, we sweat a lot. The knee socks just went with the coach shorts because they're that 70s or 80s style your dad wore at the playground. The shiny satin jackets came last because when you wear one of those, you feel special.

The 610 Stompers have rocked their iconic look far beyond the streets of New Orleans. They've performed on the Tonight Show and dumbfounded announcers at the 2011 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In New Orleans for Mardi Gras you can't hear anything and everyone is drinking, Patron said. The Macy's parade was real quiet and everyone was so polite. We had to give them permission to jump up and down.

The Stompers are protected by a group of women known as the 610 Splits that are devoted to one cause: defending the men that entertain them.

Our moves are so sexy, Patron boasted, and people get friendly with us on the parade route, so these women have dedicated their lives to protecting us.

The Stompers just got back from Washington, DC where they performed for a 4,000-person Mardi Gras ball. They'll perform in three parades for the 2012 Carnival season in New Orleans.

The group debuted their new moves for this year's Mardi Gras in January at Sweet 610 Debutante Ball 2 - Electric Boogaloo, an 80s-themed ball attended by over 2,000 people.

Ordinary as they may be, these men do some pretty extraordinary things off the dance floor.

The Jan. 27 ball was a charity event held for Cystic Fibrosis. The 610 Stompers perform more than a dozen times each year for charitable events. While they haven't released figures for this year's ball, last year they raised over $25,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

This year, they've upped the ante with the Virtual Stomper Peep Show, an interactive (and nudity-free) fundraising effort to benefit ALS.

What began as a small group of ordinary dancing men has grown into something much bigger than anyone could have anticipated. The 610 Stompers even have their own online store so men across the nation can look more ordinary. There's also a 2012 wall calendar featuring the Stomper's depictions of epic dance teams from iconic movies.

With so much buzz, the 610 Stompers have a lot in store for the future after the Mardi Gras hangover clears.

We want to inspire people to start dancing again, Patron said. We want ordinary guys to know that it's okay to dance like nobody's watching.

And, he added, we want world domination through dance.

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